A few weeks ago, when I was going through some old journal entries of mine, I came across two letters I had lovingly written to the baby of my first pregnancy. That baby was never born, and that is why I will be sharing those letters here, today, as it is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day: a day that many people…more than we realize…honor.
(For those whom are sensitive to pregnancy loss: trigger warning.)
How can something so great change in such a short time, with hardly a way of telling? How can so much responsibility begin with something so small? How can something the size of a grain—a sesame seed, somewhere deep in the pit of my body—be the biggest change in my life? I don't know the first thing about being a mother, but I promise, I will learn. I will try to be the best everything I can for you. I've only known of your existence for a day, but I love you so much already.
Yesterday, your dad and I decided to take a pregnancy test. There was something different about my body…I could feel it, and your dad remarked upon it weeks ago when he said I was 'glowing'. I was so nervous watching the test, waiting for it to change colors and reveal the fateful answer. For weeks I pretended I didn't feel anything because I didn't want to be let down if I wasn't pregnant…but in a matter of seconds, two lines appeared on the test, indicating that I was.
I stood there in awe for a moment, making sure I was seeing correctly, comparing the results with the instructions over and over again. Finally, when I knew what I saw, I peeped my head out of the bathroom door and called for your dad.
“Hunny, come here!”
He scurried in with a look of ‘I told you so’ on his face, then stared at the test as I did—comparing the results with the instructions—then he turned to me and said with a quivering giggle in his voice, “You are?!”
I nodded with the biggest smile and he grabbed me, kissing me excitedly. It was in that embrace that I started crying...out of happiness, of course. He led me into the bedroom, urging me to sit down and rest on the bed. He had me laughing at his gestures, but no sooner were we crying together, both overwhelmed by joy and the inconceivable idea that we would soon be parents. We had been talking about it for so long, fantasizing about all the things we would do with you and teach you…but now it was real. The dream was so easy, but now it was kind of scary. We hope you will love us.
It is such a mystery, having you in my belly. I've never done this before, felt this before; honestly, I don't know where to begin! You could be anyone, and I have so much faith in you. I wonder what you will look like, what your personality will be, and I could not be more excited to find out! This is Day 1 of knowing and loving being your mother, see you soon :)))
Today I finally got to go to the doctor to see you. I was so excited to see your little body for the first time, and—if you were big enough—maybe see your heartbeat. I have been waiting so long to know you were healthy and that everything was okay. But something was wrong…and I kind of feared it all along.
You weren't there…and it broke my heart to see the sac you were once cradled in, eating my food and breathing my oxygen, completely empty.
When the doctor was giving me the ultrasound and adjusting the wand to see deeper into my belly, still to no avail of finding you, in my mind I was chanting: “please, please be in there. Please, I want to see you. I need to see you”. But no matter how deeply I poured myself into those chants, they did not work.
I am so depressed, and I feel so guilty, though I know I did everything I could to keep you safe. I want to know what happened…what I could have done to help you. I didn't get to be with you for very long, but I will miss you so much. I am so sad I never got to hear your heart beat, or know if you were a boy or a girl, or even see you in the slightest…but I did feel you…if only for a little while, and it was the most amazing experience of my life. You will never know, but you made me such a better person, just at only a few weeks of existing. Maybe you will come back as another baby someday…someday when I can keep you longer.
I love you.
This letter does not express the days I sobbed in bed, nor the months of intense self-loathing I suffered through the stages of grief. Partly why my grief was so strong, I think, is because I felt so alone. It seemed everyone around me had never suffered a thing in their lives, and I was the only one who could never succeed—who was tarnished and incapable of holding life. Of course, now, I know that is not true, but it has taken me years to feel proud of my body, even in its mysterious failures, and know that these failures are yet another beautiful, albeit tragic, part of womanhood. I hope that, if there is anyone who has not yet felt that peace with themselves, this post can help bring you closer. I know that for me, at least, reading about others’ experiences, even in gruesome detail, has helped me understand that what I was going through was not ‘freakish’ or ‘abnormal’. I am more than willing to share a detailed account of my miscarriage, but that is for another post.
For me, and for so many, there is a rainbow that shines after the rain has fallen. If you would like to read about my happy ending, continue on with this post. If that’s not something you’re comfortable with reading yet (or ever), I completely understand. There was a long time I did not want anything to do with ‘rainbows’ and ‘happy endings’. If that is the case for you, I sincerely hope you heal and find acceptance soon.
As for the Rainbow…